Mountain Ash RFC | 1st Team 10 - 21 Bridgend Athletic RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
28 January 2019 / Team News

Athletic Lineout Wins It

This game was played in heavy rain from start to finish on a sodden pitch with the players of both sides and the referee deserving great credit for the commitment they put in. It was visitor’s Bridgend Athletic that was more accurate on the day and played to the conditions better than the Old Firm. Handling for both sides was difficult throughout, with plenty of knock-ons in the awful conditions, but it was Bridgend’s lineout which won them the game as it secured virtually every one of their throw-ins from which all their three tries came and gave them greater control over proceedings.

Bridgend played with the wind in the first half and after just 3 minutes, a well-directed kick took play into the Mount 22. After winning the ball at the lineout, a half break in midfield by the visitors saw a player almost get over but he was driven back and a loose pass from the ruck saw the ball go into touch.

Mount outside half Morgan James put in a lovely diagonal kick to make ground for the Old Firm and get Mount into Bridgend’s half. James was again in the action when the Old Firm were first to a loose ball, making a break in midfield and then linking with second row Jarrod Parfitt, but a knock-on gave Bridgend a scrum.

The visitors’ scrum was solid all afternoon and delivered them good ball. A penalty to Bridgend 35 metres out, right in the middle of the pitch, went wide after 13 minutes. Minutes later, hesitancy by the Old Firm defence under a high kick into the Mount half saw a Bridgend player gather it and nearly get away before knocking on.

After a well-directed long kick by scrum half Ross Davies took play into the Bridgend 22, a high kick out of defence by the visitors once again saw sloppy Mount play as two players went for the ball and knocked it on, giving the visitors easy possession.

Conditions for both sides were awful, with the rain getting heavier. After 25 minutes the visitors went 7-0 up when a lineout take 15 metres out from the Mount line was driven on with referee Morris awarding a penalty try and yellow carding Mount captain Jarrod Parfitt for trying to stop the drive illegally and coming in from the side.

From a scrum on halfway, a chip through by Bridgend player rebounded back into his arms. He broke away up to the Mount 22 but the home defence recovered to clear the ball. Another dropped ball on halfway saw the Bridgend wing sprint away to 5 metres out where some desperate defence stopped him.

Only being 7 points adrift at half time was a good return for the Old Firm after playing against the wind and being reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.

It was the Old Firm’s turn to have use of the wind in the second half, but instead of using it to kick for position a long pass into midfield was knocked on for Bridgend to get a scrum. Two high kicks by the visitors early in the second half once again caused problems in the Mount defence. A penalty to Bridgend on the Mount 22 was kicked to the corner, and from a catch and drive, second row Ben Cording touched down, outside half Robert Evans converting to put Bridgend 14-0 up after 46 minutes. Although the Old Firm were playing with the wind, it was the visitors who were controlling the game and monopolising possession.

Then came the try of the match, and what a really good one it was in the conditions. Replacement flanker Kriss Sanders secured a Mount lineout near half way and for virtually the first time in the game, the Mount pack made ground with a driving maul and had the visitors in trouble for the first time in the game, making at least 20 metres. A forward peeled off and drove up to the Athletic 22, where he slipped a pass to outside half Morgan James who was in close support and took the move on to 5 metres out. From the ruck, the ball was moved wide to centre Alex Hughes who swatted a would-be tackler off to power over for the Old Firm’s first try of the day and finish off a 50 metre move which reduced Bridgend’s lead to 14-5 after 55 minutes. With 25 minutes left and playing with the wind, there was hope that the Old Firm could turn the game round.

From the restart, a long kick up to the Athletic 22 and then quick following up – for virtually the first time in the game – led to a rushed clearance infield. Mount captain Jarrod Parfitt gathered on the Bridgend 10 metre line and made ground, chipping neatly over a defender and into the visitors 22, which forced the visitors to clear it into touch just 5 metres out. Frustratingly though – and this was the main difference between the sides – the lineout was lost and the visitors cleared the ball 40 metres downfield.

The wind had changed direction and it was now blowing in favour of the visitors, making the Old Firm’s task even harder. Bridgend worked their way up to the Mount 22 and from another penalty award, kicked to 5 metres out. They made no mistake taking the lineout, and once again drove on and over the Mount line for prop forward Mat Muir to clinch the game with a try. Outside half Evans converted to make it 21-5 after 68 minutes and put the game beyond doubt.

The Old Firm were not finished though and got a try back after 75 minutes, once again from a close-in catch and drive, prop James Cowdry scoring, and replacement outside half Morgan Cartwright was unlucky with his conversion attempt from the corner, the ball rebounding out from an upright.

After two very good wins to start 2019 where 10 league points were taken from the 10 on offer, the Old Firm have lost their last two games to teams below them in the table, taking just one point from 10. With results going the Old Firm’s way, they are still in 5th place, four points behind 4th placed Dinas Powys but with two games in hand. Alternatively, with three teams to be relegated, they are only 7 points in front of 10th placed St Joseph’s. There is still all to play for.

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